Village Life: The Senses

To form your own first impressions of the village, here is a collection of noises, smells, tastes, textures and sights that I experienced for two and a half months in Kamega.

Noises: roosters crowing, kids (baby goats) bleating, wings flapping, hooves clacking at the break of dawn; the swoosh of small brooms made from bush grasses; the clank of metal pots; the crackling of wood fires; the bubbling of boiling soups; the sizzle of cooking oil; the the soft thuds of a large wooden mortar and pestle; wind rustling the leaves on trees and the stalks in the field; babies crying; the hum and clickety-clack of motorbikes; the schwing of knives and cutlasses cutting through stalks; the throaty call of guinea fowls as they lay their eggs; the creaking frames of old bicycles; the laughter and chatter of groups of children;  the swish of laundry and dish water being thrown out; people shouting greetings from far away; the braying of donkeys carrying heavily loaded carts;  women calling and scolding children; the slurping of soup; angry voices yelling; the beating of drums at church; the stomping of dancing feet; radios blarring the national news; call and response songs of worship; the buzzing of swarming flies; the goji whining funeral songs; women excitedly gossiping at market; the call of bats at night

Smells: sour, fermented flour; smoke of wood fires; pungent, dried fish; roasting groundnuts (peanuts) and corn; ground chili peppers that make you sneeze; garlic, onions and tomatoes cooking in oil; savory scents wafting from a pot of soup; the dusty smell of tecara leaves; burning grasses; the toasted scent of cereals being ground at the mill; the stench of human and animal feces; the lemony scent of key soap; perfumes and oils that women wear to church on Sunday; the earthy scent accompanying the rain

Tastes: sickly sweet black tea saturated with white sugar and powdered milk; sweet white bread; rich egg yolks; smoky flavor of zem (ash from burnt stalks of millet used to flavor rice and soups); slightly sour doughs of boiled millet or corn flour; tamale-like mwada (dumplings made from corn and bean flour); starchy yams; spicy red peppers; saucy, tomatoey stews; savoury dawadawa seasonings; roasted meat; creamy and spinachy groundnut and bitte (local green) soup; slimy okra soup; rich, garlicy palm nut soup; creamy nerre (ground seeds of a melon) soup; spicy, salty jollof rice; mildly sweet bush fruit; dried baobab fruit that tastes like sweetart powder; kimmis (fried bread pieces)

Textures and sensations: plastic weave of prayer mats used for sleeping; fine mesh of mosquito nets; earthy feel of walls made from clay and cement; zinc heated in the sun; stiff,  waxed cotton cloth; metal buckets, pans and pots; flimsy, plastic mugs; itchy stalks of millet; beadlike grains of corn and millet; large wooden pestles made from tree seedlings; cool shade of the mango tree; dusty sand outside the compound house; small pebbles on the dirt road; prickly, irritating grasses; smooth plastic lawn chairs; wooden handles of hoes smoothed by wear; scalding heat of the sun; slimy okra; hard wooden stools and benches

Sights: savannah grasses dotted with trees; red dirt roads; compound houses of mud huts roofed with grasses and square rooms roofed with zinc; trampled foot paths through the bush; fields tall with maturing millet and corn; dusty, tattered play clothes; naked babies and young children; colorful, patterened cloth; women carrying huge pans on their heads; wells and boreholes where water is fetched; beautiful, red palm nut oil; vendors selling grains, seasonings and produce spread out on canvases; throngs of children dressed in school uniforms; women and children bent over, harvesting grains in the field; human and animals packed into a motortricycle taxi; long lines of women waiting for their grains to be ground at the mill; men transporting tied up goats, guinea fowls or pigs on their bicycles; grains and flour spread on the ground, drying in the sun; women parading in a circle as they dance at church; goats tethered with rope; flocks of guinea fowls headbobbing as they scurry about; a stocking cap slouched on the aged brow of the chief; old men sitting together, discussing under the shade; a person transporting a friend on the back of their bicycle; children crouched around a small makeshift fire to roast the spoils of their hunt or harvest; men circled around, pounding piles of corn, rice or millet with tree branches; mothers breastfeeding; people kneeling or bowing to show respect to elders; children seated around a common eating dish

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